8 Things Not to Say to a Woman Who Doesn’t Want Children

Posted May 9, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

This may seem like an odd addition to our Mother’s Day week theme, but when we’re talking about mothers, we also need to discuss the fact that motherhood is a calling. Motherhood is a drive. It’s something many women are drawn and called to do. And that drive, that calling, is noble and honorable. But in its nobility and honorability, we must also recognize that there are women in the world who choose not to follow a path to motherhood.

Driven by a biological drive to procreate, a woman choosing not to have children remains taboo in the world of marriage, careers, and even womanhood. We live in a world where it’s rude to ask a woman her age or weight, but it’s perfectly OK for a stranger to say, “When are you having children?” to any woman who looks over 25 and is in a committed relationship. How people think this is OK, I still don’t know. But I know it’s asked often of me, and usually met with a blank stare or uncontrollable eye roll.

So to help you all remain tactful in your encounters with women who have chosen not to have children, I give you the 10 things you should not say to women who don’t want children.

  1. You’ll change your mind. Right back ‘atcha, lady. Haven’t you known for most of your life that you wanted to be a mother? So trust me when I say I know myself. Just like you couldn’t imagine suddenly not wanting children, I can’t imagine suddenly having them.
  2. Wait until your biological clock kicks in. I’m not even going to comment on this, it’s just stupid.
  3. Don’t you like kids? To this, I always respond, “Oh, I love kids. I just couldn’t eat a whole one.” Ha! But really, just because someone doesn’t want to be a mother doesn’t make them an evil, unfeeling monster who hates children.
  4. What will you do when you’re old and grey and no one to take care of you? With the money I save on college tuition, cars, toys, camps, birthday parties, and the like, I will pay a nice young lad to take care of me in my old age.
  5. Don’t you want a family? I have one, thanks. My husband is my family, my parents are my family, my siblings, my nieces and nephews. Wow, look at that, big family without procreating.
  6. Sorry, only couples with children are invited. Just because a couple doesn’t have children doesn’t mean they don’t want to forge relationships with couples who do. We might be very excited to accept a birthday party invitation even if we don’t have a rug rat of our own.
  7. You don’t understand, you’re not a parent. While the complications of parenthood are certainly vast, let’s not assume that non-parents can’t possibly relate to you. We want to be your friend and take your hand through the hard times as well, even if we haven’t had the same experience.
  8. You’re selfish. It’s easy to think that a decision not to have children is based solely on wanting to spend your time focused on yourself, but that’s not the only factor. There are many ways to contribute to the world, and parenting is just one.

So the next time someone says, “I’m not having children,” respond kindly and with respect. Perhaps say, “Tell me about some of your goals in the next 10 years. What do you hope to achieve in your career or your marriage?” There’s more to life than kids, but don’t worry, we childless wonders still want to hear about yours!

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."